Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Canada, Malaysia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
UNITED KINGDOM | Several Changes to Tier 1, Tier 2, Permanent Residency, and Entry Rules
On December 7, the British government published a “Statement of Changes” to the United Kingdom’s Immigration Rules. The most notable among them for companies and their foreign employees include the following.
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - As we reported previously, the number of visas available under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route will increase from 1000 to 2000 per year. Internationally recognized global leaders in science, digital technology, the arts and creative sectors, endorsed under the Exceptional Talent route, will be permitted to apply for settlement after three years. This brings the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category in line with the Tier 1 categories of Entrepreneur and Investor.
Tier 2 (General) - Flexibility is being introduced to enable students to apply to switch to Tier 2 as soon as they have completed their courses of study. Currently non-PhD students cannot apply to switch within the UK until they have received their final results. Additionally, there will be exemptions from the Resident Labour Market Test for posts to be held by certain researcher applicants and established research team members.
Indefinite Leave to Remain - Applications for settlement made by partners of points-based system migrants will be required to show that they have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 days per year, just as primary applicants are required to do. This change will apply to absences from the UK during leave to remain granted under the rules in place from January 11, 2018.
Also, an amendment is being made so that Tier 2 migrants are no longer required to have been continuously employed throughout the qualifying period to be eligible for settlement. This is because a Tier 2 migrant who is no longer working for their sponsor is subject to curtailment.
Entry Clearance - The Government is proposing to begin issuing entry clearance electronically, with an initial trial for specified groups before general roll-out at a later date. Currently, entry clearance is usually endorsed in a passport. The change will allow entry clearance to be issued both electronically and by endorsement. Migrants with electronic entry clearance will not have to present entry clearance upon arrival in the UK as it will be checked electronically.
There are also additional minor changes in the categories of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and (Investor); Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer); Short-Term Study; Tier 4; and Tier 5. Companies employing foreign nationals in the U.K. are encouraged to reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists for more details or with questions on how these changes impact their foreign employees.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
CANADA | Visa Requirement Lifted for Bulgarian and Romanian Citizens
Effective December 1, all nationals of Bulgarian and Romania no longer need a visa to travel to Canada for short stays (normally for up to six months) for visiting, business, and tourism. However, like other visa-exempt travelers, they will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport. This further loosens requirements for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, who have been able to enter Canada with an eTA rather than a visa since May 1, only if they had held a Canadian visa in the ten years preceding their travel, or they had held a U.S. non-immigrant visa at any time.
Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) System
Visa-exempt foreign nationals are expected to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) via the online registration system, to fly to or transit through Canada. ETAs are valid for five years, or until the expiration date of their passport, whichever comes first. Most international visitors are allowed to stay up to six months from the day they enter Canada.
While the eTA requirement does not apply to citizens of the United States. U.S. permanent residents, or green card holders, do require the online authorization if entering Canada by air. The eTA is not required for land or sea port entry. A complete list of nationalities requiring an eTA is available on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website here.
Travelers are reminded that having an eTA does not automatically guarantee entry to Canada. Romanians and Bulgarians, like all international travelers to Canada, will still need to present themselves to Canada Border Services Agency officers upon arrival. Border officers retain discretion to determine who can enter and for what length of stay.
MALAYSIA | MDEC 2018 Foreign Worker (FKW) Projections Now Open
Starting December 8, companies who are registered with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) can start applying for their 2018 projection for Employment Passes (EPs). Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Malaysia companies and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies registered with the MDEC intending to employ foreign nationals in Malaysia in 2018 should submit their Foreign Knowledge Worker (FKW) projection applications, along with the supporting information and documents, as soon as possible to avoid any delay in their hiring and work authorization process for foreign employees.
MSC Malaysia companies and ICT companies registered with the MDEC who intend to employ foreign nationals in Malaysia in 2018 must have the FKW projection approved before any EP applications can be submitted. The standard processing time for the projection is approximately 5-10 working days, subject to follow-up requests from MDEC for additional information or documents, especially if the company submits a high-volume FKW projection. Information required for the projection includes the total number of Malaysian and foreign staff currently employed, and the projection request for any new and renewal EPs for the coming year, along with a justification for this projection. Where possible, companies should provide copies of documents - such as client agreements, contracts, letters of award, purchase orders for new and ongoing projects - to support the projection application.
For assistance in preparing their 2018 FKW projection application, companies are invited to contact their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists.
TURKEY | Updated Status – Visas for U.S. Citizens Traveling to Turkey
Following-up on our recent update on the availability of Turkish visas for U.S. citizens, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has confirmed that all Turkish consular posts in the United States are now issuing business and tourist visa to U.S. nationals. Further, applicants in certain limited circumstances - such as those with medical needs, urgent family issues, and those participating in international conferences or sport events - can visit the Turkish consular posts without appointments to submit their visa applications. All other applicants must use the MFA’s online visa appointment system at http://www.visa.gov.tr/. However, applicants should note that the backlog for appointments is expected to increase quickly now that visa are once again available.
In Canada, the Turkish consulates in Vancouver and Ottawa have begun issuing visas to U.S. nationals without requiring proof of residence in Canada - although this change has not been officially announced by the MFA.
As Pro-Link GLOBAL reported previously, many Turkish consulates outside the US have been consistently issuing visas to U.S. nationals physically present at that consular post – with some consulates requiring proof of local residence. Therefore, U.S. citizens are encouraged to check requirements on a case-by-case basis with the Turkish consulate where they intend to apply.
The above is part of the continuing diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and Turkey, ongoing since October 8. For more details on the dispute and its impact on immigration, please see our recent Immigration Dispatch of November 27. Readers are reminded that the situation remains extremely fluid, and U.S. nationals traveling to Turkey are encouraged to consult their Immigration Specialists prior to travel.
In a related development, the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Turkey (along with those in Sudan and Egypt) has issued a Security Message to U.S. nationals of potentially violent political protests, following the recent announcement that the U.S. is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader
This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change at a moment's notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL's Counsel and Knowledge Management teams. We worked with our PLG partner Malaysia Office Permit Pro, our PLG partner Turkey Office Bener, Newland Chase, and Peregrine Immigration Management to provide you this update.
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